By Gabriel Torres
Do you believe in Ghost? That depends on who you ask, but with the school being over a hundred years old, some people are bound to linger in the halls from decades ago. To this day students still experience hauntings in Pacelli Hall, a residential area for students that live on campus. The ghost some students say they’ve seen is that of a young boy named Jack or Jack Jack. There are other ghost that haunt the halls, but Jack— made up by the Psychology department— is the ghost students at OLLU talk about the most. Psychology Junior Marisa Garcia says that while Jack is the most popular and most talked about apparition, he is in fact a fictional character. “Jack was created by a student as a social experiment,” said Marisa. “She wanted to demonstrate how quickly a rumor could be spread and adopted.” The student is no longer at Our Lady of the Lake, but the mystic legend and lore of Jack remains.
Jack, according to some students who have seen him, is responsible for countless childish pranks throughout campus and especially in the dorms. Elizabeth Garza, a freshman with a major in biology, recounts what she believes is an encounter with Jack. She was in her dorm room in Pacelli Hall and the restroom that connects her room and her roommates was locked on both sides. “Both doors were locked from the inside, but that’s kind of impossible.” Said Garza. “Mainly because once you leave you have to unlock it from the inside.” For Garza, Jack is scary and cool at the same time. On another occasion, leave her dorm after turning out the lights only to return and find they had mysteriously been turned back on. Jack is a sneaky ghost that likes to play tricks on students.
While Jack is fictional, he has become a permanent part of OLLU lore and is even finding his way into San Antonio’s list of popular hauntings. In the latest edition of San Antonio Magazine, Jack is listed as a bonafide specter haunting the city. The article mentions him and the childish tricks he plays on students like unexplained noises and items being moved or stolen and later returned. Garza said she has definitely heard unexplained noises when she is in her dorm by herself. A staff member who wishes to remain anonymous says she believes in the child ghost. “It has to be a child,” she said. “Because they are silly pranks that just annoy you. Things get moved around where I work and I get just annoyed having to look for them to finish whatever task at hand,” she said. “I like to think it’s Jack the kid ghost.”
Noises and moved items are the most reported paranormal activities reported on campus, and there are those who have not seen anything or anyone but have experienced other strange happenings. “I have never seen anything or anyone but I have definitely ‘felt’ a presence and witnessed things moved around,” said Alexa Saveedra, a Senior majoring in Public Relations. “I don’t know if it is Jack or not, but I’ve felt something weird in certain places on campus.” Roland Gonzalez, a Business major graduating in the Spring also reports seeing items rearranged in his dorm room. “I hear footsteps a lot too,” said Gonzalez, whether it’s Jack or not, I can’t say but I have definitely noticed creepy things happening, especially when I’m alone, I feel like I’m not but turns out I am and that really creeps me out.”
Other students say they’ve heard or seen strange things, but don’t think it is due to a young ghost named Jack. “I think [the campus] is definitely haunted, but not by a boy named Jack,” said English major Chloe Brown. “I hear things and notice things that have been moved.” Unlike the Jack stories, these stories, recounted by current and former students appear even more mysterious and are always told with great detail and wonder. Most of them involve a woman, possibly a nun who lived in the old convent. When students retell their accounts, they remember specific details and always point out their own skepticism in ghosts.
Former student and now professor Amanda Brown spoke about her experience for the first time since it happened almost eight years ago. “I don’t believe in ghost, but I really can’t explain what I saw,” said Brown. “When I was a student I took a film class in the Fine Arts building. I went to use the restroom when suddenly I saw my friend Tammy. I saw her go into the restroom and I ran to catch up with her. I reached out for the doorknob just as it slammed shut before I could grab it. I barely missed the door, that is what stands out the most, the door slamming shut right in front of me. But when I entered the restroom, there was no one there. It is a one-person bathroom.” Professor Brown didn’t see the woman’s face, but said she had long black shiny hair, “just like my friend Tammy,” said Brown, “it was in a long ponytail.” When people describe these accounts on campus, they almost always involve a woman with long black hair.
“I have never seen Jack,” said Devon Fernandez, a transfer student majoring in Sociology. “I have definitely seen a lady that just freaked me out. It was near the grotto and I thought I heard her crying, that is what caught my attention. I was walking towards the parking lot and thought it was weird that someone was there but I just thought she was praying. I saw her go like inside the grotto and thought that was even weirder. When I got closer she just disappeared. I never told anyone because I thought they might think I was crazy or on drugs,” said Fernandez.
Whether it’s Jack, a restless nun or something else perhaps more sinister, mostly everyone on campus agrees the university has some sort of paranormal activity going on. And while it started as a young psychology student’s project aiming to highlight an inherent part of human nature and behavior, Jack is now an endearing part of the OLLU culture and has been welcomed into “La Familia”.
So, is Our Lady of The Lake haunted, and if so by whom? Well, that depends on who you ask.